Last season the men’s team won Southland Conference for the third consecutive year but faced a bit of adversity, after losing their star player Will Holcomb due to COVID-19 protocols entering the final day of regional play. With just four players left, Sam Houston made history with its first ever NCAA Championship appearance.
Even though they fell short coming in ninth place in nationals, it was still the most successful run the team has ever had. Now they are taking the upcoming season with a head of steam hoping to be championship contenders again.
Also a season ago, the women won four of their last five events to end last season, which was capped off by a second straight conference championship.
Due to unfortunate circumstances and inclement weather, the team’s season was cut short at the Louisiana State University regionals. There may have been ways around this but instead they decided to just cancel the event. However, the women’s team played in the inaugural Let Them Play Classic hosted by Barstool sports.
“Last year was kind of a historic season for both programs,” head coach Brandt Kieschnick said. “On the men’s side we won conference for the third time in a row. And of course, playing down to four men and finishing one spot out of match play showed what we can do. And then the women’s side won conference for the second year in a row. Unfortunately, we were unable to play due to weather. We used that to transition into this season.”
Coming off a historic season the men won their first event keeping the tides rolling after at Kansas State University in the Wildcat Invitational. They have rounded out their fall competitions with coming in first in the Bentwater Intercollegiate in Montgomery, Texas.
“It’s a course we play a lot,” Kieschnick said. “We played there two years ago and were fortunate enough to win it. We’ve got a good group of guys and a very disciplined group of guys.”
This season, the women’s team has placed first all three of the first four of their events to start the new season. They are on track and have picked up right where they left off. They won their first three events, including the Bearkat Invitational which was hosted in Huntsville, Texas. They will round out their fall competitions by competing in the Palmetto Intercollegiate hosted in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
“We’ve been building and building to continue to get better and it showed,” Kieschnick said.
Going into the year with such high finishes from a season ago, Kieschnick knew that there would be expectations coming into this season.
“We do things every day from a standard and mindset standpoint,” Kieschnick said. “Playing the same way, we practice, we try to play to the standards we set so when the tournament comes around, we’ve been hitting those standards and it’s all the same thing.”
The women’s team also had a large hole to fill going into this season with arguably their best player in Hannah Alberto graduating. One of the players that has shined for the team to fill that anchor role has been freshman Zulaikah Nasser.
“She had a great freshman year last year,” Kieschnick said. “She has definitely started out very strong but even so all of our ladies have played very well. Each one has gotten better and that is why they are winning.”
With the fall competitions coming to a successful end for both teams, the goal now is looking forward to the spring and attempting to take home the championship for the first time in the Western Athletic Conference.